Two golds for the US Women and two silvers for the US Men on Saturday, as the U23 racing ended with the Women's Eight and Four making good on dominating heats to crush their Finals and both Isaiah Harrison and the Men's Eight saved their best for last: grabbing silvers from folks who had been ahead of them through the week.
BW8+ Doubles Down on Golds for the Decade
For the U23 Eight, this second win by the USA in as many years, the Americans have put their mark on this event here in the '20s. (Before 2021, the USA's last gold in the BW8+ had been back in 2016). USA 2 seat Sophia Hahn rowed in both of this decade's gold medal eights--at 2 both times, no less.
The USA eight won in dominating fashion today, getting off the line so quickly that they effectively ruined the camera shots in the first 500, because the US crew was already so far ahead.
By the thousand meter mark, coxswain Ray Rane had everyone's bowball and then some, and the crew came home open water ahead of GB and Australia.
USA storming towards gold
Two seat Hahn, who rows at Yale, was the only returning member of 2021 eight, and while Princeton's Camille Vandermeer and (also) Yale's Margaret Hedeman had raced (different) quads at U23s in the past, the rest of the eight was brand new to U23 World's racing. That included the coxswain Rane and her Texas teammate in the six seat, Kathia Nitsch; the Stanford stern pair of Isabella Battistoni and Azja Czajkowski; the Rutgers bowseat Hannah Heideveld; and Madison Moore, the crew's third Yale rower.
BW4- Flips Script from '21 to take Gold
The U23 Women's Four podium has become a destination for GB and the US of late, with the Brits winning in '21 and '19, and the USA taking Silver in '21 and bronze, behind Ireland, in '19.
This year's four, a quartet from the University of Texas program that just won back-to-back NCAA Championships, flipped that string of results on GB: the British went out hard, but the US crew had them by the 1000 and just kept their collective foot on the gas to win
USA BW4- and Texas teammates with gold
Three of the US athletes--Kaitlin Knifton, Fran Raggi, and Anna Jensen--had done this sort of walking away to win together before, as boatmates in the Texas 1V8, and here they teamed up with Caitlin Esse--herself a two-time Worlds medalist in the 2019 JW2- and the BW2- last year--from this year's Texas 2V. The crew was clearly having a blast, rowing here with their year-round teammates, and made no secret of their pedigree: rowing a Texas-branded shell emblazoned with "Hook 'Em" down the side and throwing up the trademark horns-sign, both as they crossed the line--to the delight, apparently of the drone operator--and again on the podium.
Harrison Rides His Rhythm to Singles Silver
Isaiah Harrison took an impressive silver home today for the USA and, while the 6'9" lad may be one of the big fellas walking around this--or any--venue, his racing makes it hard to remember at times that he is just 19, and that just a year ago he was racing to a bronze at the still-called-Junior Worlds.
USA BM1x, and now 2-time international medalist, Isaiah Harrison
He certainly did not race here like he was new to U23s or looking to scope out these faster scullers for a year before really getting deadly serious about medaling at this next level. Nope: he moved smoothly through the entire progression like a pro, always doing just enough to advance, beating the folks he could along way, and leaving everyone guessing just how fast he might really be able to go when pressed.
Today, the other scullers--and the rest of us learned just how fast, when Harrison eased out to a lead on the entire field out in lane 6...and we say "eased" because he did at a long and nearly leisurely 29 strokes a minute.
In fact, for a good bit, the closest chase was coming from Italian Olympian (and Cal IRA Champion) Gennaro Di Mauro, meaning that the semi winners in the middle of the course were all trailing, and looking awkwardly over their shoulders to spot the leaders.
The German, Jonas Gelsen, did eventually get himself back on terms with Harrison, but he was overstroking the American and when Harrison finally let his rate creep up, there was no chance that Bulgaria's Emil Neykov would catch him. Neykov, the 2021 U23 champ, won the bronze, while Di Mauro faded to sixth.
Afterward, Harrison--who rightly seems to feel that he should stay humble while testing himself at this higher level--was thrilled and maybe even amazed to have come away with a medal, but the way he raced proved he deserved to be on the podium.
"I'm super excited to have done so well," Harrison told row2. "The Lord's blessed me so much over the past few days, and I'm still a bit shocked about the results: I crossed the finish line and was just awestruck that I had medalled."
When asked about how racing U23s differed from Junior Worlds last year, he said that "one thing that helped [me] separate this year from U23 last year is that I came into the regatta with a mentality to stay as cheerful and excited as possible."
"In that vein," he added, "I have one important comment: free speed is highly dependent on your socks." Indeed, it appears that it is.
BM8+ Battles Through to Seize Silver
After USA U23 Men's Eight won their rep on Wednesday, stroke seat Will Legenzowski promised a "Magnum Opus" in the final and his crew did not disappoint. While no one in the field could match the speed of the GB eight that went 5:25 in its heat, only the US--in both that heat and then again today--had the end-to-end speed to chase the British. That included the Australians, who did throw a blistering "let's see if anyone can hang with us" start into the equation, but both the British and Americans used their base pace to get ahead of the Aussies, who came third.
USA BM8+, taking a bite
"Going into a championship race, you can't ever predict how it is going to shake out," said Driver's Seat pro Jack DiGiovanni afterwards, with his medal.
"Our plan was the stay internal in the first 500-750m of the race, and then pick an opponent to battle through the middle. We found an opportunity with the Aussies and were able to take advantage of it and find ourselves in the silver medal position by the end."
"Super exciting race and hats off to the Brits for taking the gold," DiGiovanni said, adding: "I've enjoyed working with this crew so much throughout the summer--we have such amazing, hardworking people in the boat and it makes this medal even more special having these guys by my side. Such an honor to represent the USA this summer!"
DiGiovanni knows a few of his boat mates quite well: stroke Legenzowski, Charlie Fargo, and Kai Hoite are all teammates of his from Brown. The eight also had some sibling power from Miles and Jacob Hudgins, who are both at Dartmouth, while Adam Campaign (Cornell), Alexander Abuhoff (Northeastern) and James Wright (Stanford) rounded out the crew.
For Wright, in the seven seat, everything the US did today came down to believing in their base and one other:
"We had a lot of trust in our base speed and base rhythm to keep us in the race, and ultimately our trust in each other and the work we had done as a crew got us through the Australians."
"I felt like we executed each part of the race like we had planned. Of course we all would’ve wanted to come across the line first, but we couldn’t have asked for a more cohesive and complete race down the course," Wright said, adding: "I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to go on that journey with."
U19 Semis Set Finals and W4x Earns an 'A' Spot
The US U19 squad had seven crews racing Saturday morning hoping to join the Eights and Women's Fours in Sunday's A Finals, but only the JW4x got through the tight racing that started the day on the Lago.
The U19 women in the quad stayed right on the GB quad to take second in their semi, ahead of Poland; Germany, Romania, and the Dutch came through the other semi, and the times promise a fight for the medals tomorrow.
USA JW4x celebrating the Semi; on to the next one
"I'm super pumped to race again tomorrow," said Heather Schmidt, the USA stroke. "It's a fight out there--the quad is a competitive event, and there are tons of fast competitors.
"We found more speed coming out from our heat, and I can't wait to see what we can do for tomorrow."
Part of progressing through the draw at this point is, of course, which semi you land in, and the US JM4x bore the brunt bad luck there, drawing what could well be all three of the eventual medalists in their semi: the Czechs, Germans, British. USA's fourth place--in 5:57.6 to GB's 5:57.13--would have won them the other semi, but they will now have to be content with having raced what is likely the best of their event just one day too early, and look to what they can do in the B Final (where they will be the only crew to have broken 6 minutes today).
The U19 Men's Double came 4th as well, just one second off the Swiss double, after valiantly rowing back through the field. They head to the B Final, along with U19 Men's Four, whose Friday charge into the Semi was not repeatable today as they trailed out of the top three the whole way and took 6th.
But B Final Can Be A Goal
No medals for folks in the B Finals, of course, but in some of the tougher events, being in the top 10-12 can be a massive accomplishment, and many of the US crews in the B Final can still improve on the US's 2021 placings. Ten of the fourteen US U19 entries will finish racing the B Final or better, and two that did not make it--the JM1x and JW2x--did race up into their C Finals in today's C/D Semis.
For US U19 Women's Sculler Olivia Petri and her coach from Redwood Scullers, Monica Hilcu, the chance to make that top ten in her B Final remains a goal very much still on the table. Petri did take 5th in her A/B semi but, she just turned 15 earlier this month, and the four women she gamely chased today were all in at least their second international regatta and had two if not three years on Petri.
USA JW1x, Olivia Petri
"I appreciate being able to test myself among some of the best junior rowers in the world," Petri told row2k.
"These past races have given me a world of experience. I am excited to be able to race again tomorrow in the B final." The A Final of the Women's Single has been a tough nut to crack for US women: in the past 20 years or so, only three U19's have made it to the final: soon-to-be '08 Olympian Lindsey Meyer in 2006, Cara Linnenkohl in 2008, and Katelin Gildersleeve, who is stroking the U23 Quad for the USA here, in 2019. When they did, it was in one of their last years of U19 eligibility, whereas Petri has three more years after this one to keep after this event, if she chooses. By the way, when US junior women do get to the JW1x final, they tend to medal: Linnenkohl won a silver, and Meyer and Gildersleeve took bronze.
Up Next, One Last Time
Tomorrow gets simpler on the schedule: with only the U19s finals left to go, they get the course, the podium, and the timetable all to themselves.
USA's U19s have five A Finals tomorrow, plus five B Finals and three C Finals earlier in the morning. For the medals, the US Women will be favorites, much like the U23s were today--especially in the Eight, the Four, and the Coxed Four--plus the Quad's time promises an exciting final there. The U19 Men will have all their chips on the Eight, where the US has a 2021 gold to defend, and that is literally true for the three returners from last year, which include coxswain Adam Casler.
The B and C Finals will be done by 5:30 am or so Eastern, so you can head right to results--listed by event under the Results tab--here on the World Rowing site...or you can look for the Daily Results Summary when we get it and put it up on the row2k results page later in the day.
Here are the Eastern times for those five A Finals:
- 5:45 am - U19 Women's Coxed Four
- 6:40 am - U19 Women's Four
- 7:10 am - U19 Women's Quad
- 8:10 am - U19 Women's Eight
- 8:55 am - U19 Men's Eight
If there are any schedule changes, we will post them here.
Notes from the Course
- That World's Best Time Feeling: Varese only gave us one new WBT time--and it came early before the lake got bouncy and the wind shifted to a head, but it was a good one: the Greek U19 Women's double broke a 13 year-old record, and became the first junior women's double under 7 minutes.
GRE JW2x, speedy!
- Seeing Clear to Switzerland: another "Alps are Out" day today, and they look close enough that they probably can hear the Swiss guy with the massive cowbell.
- Strong South African Hat Game: go ahead, judge for yourself.
- Did Anyone Tell the Timing Computer? In one race with a scratch, the absent boat was listed as being 414 meters behind before someone realized the lane was, in fact, empty.
- Did you see that? The French BM2x had a "blink and you missed it" crab off the start in their A Final: Bow seat's starboard oar helicoptered around and the handle hit the head of stroke seat, but bow grabbed it immediately and started back up. They hardly slowed down at all, but did wind up out of the medals and--because these things need to be seen--here it is, thanks to a diligent @fatsculler:
- Sets and Sets of Siblings: in addition to the Hudgins brothers in the BM8+, the US Team has a few sets of siblings here. That list includes U23 W1x Ella Barry has a younger sister, Catherine, in the U19 W2x, and U19 W4 3 seat Imogen Cabot has an older sister, Lettie, stroking the GB U23 W4 (Lettie is herself as US U19 team alum, but has been racing with GB U23s thanks to dual citizenship--she won a silver today).